Four Questions to Start Your Next Staff Meeting

Amber Johnson Leadership

New Years festivities are officially over – but that doesn’t
mean you can’t start your staff meetings with a little
reflection and celebration.

The New Year is here to stay (though that won’t keep us from writing 2012 accidentally). But just because January 1 has come and gone doesn’t mean the time for reflection and celebration has passed.

Take advantage of this fresh start to give a little overdue praise, seek extra feedback, or rehash the post-game analysis on the year that has passed. Extra time spent in reflection and celebration will help your direct reports start the new year feeling heard, respected, supported, and refreshed.

Here are four questions for use in staff meetings or one-on-one check-ins, that will give you a new perspective on what’s on your team’s mind.

1. If our team were a movie this past year, it would be a ________________. (Comedy, drama, tragedy).

This question offers a broad-brush stroke look at the past year, but also opens the door for more serious conversations: what themes reoccurred in the past year? Were they positive or negative? How can we foster what’s working, and make this team perform like a blockbuster in 2013?

2. The things I am most proud of from the past year include ________________, ________________, and ________________. (Encourage employees to list personal as well as professional achievements. 

You may be surprised at what  your team lists here. If you haven’t publicly thanked or congratulated them for their top achievements, take time to do so now. Help employees see how their individual contributions add to the team’s overall success – or even how their personal achievements develop skill sets and attributes that are useful at the office. For example, you might say, “I’m impressed that you beat your own personal best record in your marathon. I know training takes a lot of discipline and hard work, and I see how you bring that to the office as well. It’s an inspiration to me.”

3. The  disappointments we experienced this past year were ________________. 

It can be hard to discuss disappointments directly, but awareness of them provides a clearer picture of the new year’s growth opportunities. It can also give senior executives a chance to assess where the team is fruitlessly investing their time: how can you shift assignments, change priorities, or improve processes in the coming year?

4. 2013 will be great because ________________. 

End conversations on a positive and future-focused note with a question that lets employees state goals. Share your own, and hold each other accountable. Find a way as a leader to support these goals: for example, if you have employees with weight-loss goals, consider holding walk-and-talk meetings that allow you to move a little more during the work day.

These questions are adapted from Laura Zumdahl, a contributor to this blog. Read more of Laura’s ideas:

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